When it comes to buzzwords, the latest catchy term is ‘engagement’. It’s not actually new; in fact it’s an oldie (like me) enjoying a bit of a renaissance – not that any of that matters.
We probably need something that’s been around a while to help us get a grip on some of the enormous changes and challenges headed in our direction.
I’m pleased to see the emergence of new & improved engagement outfit ‘4TheRegion’ (formerly Swansea Bay Futures) who are already making a mark. As their name suggests, they have an important regional remit. Their recent ‘Future Generations’ exposition at the Liberty was a big hit with over 250 attendees.
Much of my own engagement work goes on behind the scenes. Some gigs can last quite a while as we help clients to achieve objectives. It’s fascinating work and you never stop learning. Other established methods are no less effective either. Listening to Swansea-based Ben Francis speaking at the Federation of Small Businesses annual dinner last week, it’s still very much about getting the basics right. As he put it, behind every export success you will find a collaborative network of suppliers and we shouldn’t be limited by horizons.
That was the message too at SA1 Waterfront Business Club - a group also doing its bit for regional engagement. They recently had an expert panel talking about remarkable happenings in the hospitality, leisure and food scene.
Adam Smith, General manager at the Village Hotel took the sizeable audience through some potential opportunities for the industry. There a bunch of positive factors but his view is that greater investment in career development within tourism is needed, especially if we are to compete internationally.
There was also an overseas perspective from Rob Stewart, leader of Swansea Council who shared an impressive list of planned visitor attractions. These included the digital arena and Skyline cable car. His hi-tech presentation left the audience in no doubt that there’s a collective drive to boost regional prosperity.
Someone else making an impact is bespoke enterprise ‘Refining Dining’. Marketing bright spark Robyn Lee talked about the five new quality venues in Swansea where the aim is to promote a much better perception of the city’s night-life to visitors while creating new employment into the bargain.
Anyone tempted to think the wedding business is a poor relation part of the sector was soon put right by Shakira Obaid of the ‘Oldwalls Collection’. Since expanding to include the former Fairy Hill hotel in Gower, the group is now a full-service venture. The payoff for guests is an exceptional experience in some stunning locations.
What isn’t widely known is that University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD) has its own very successful School of Tourism and Hospitality. In highlighting their work, Dr Jane Davidson, pointed out that public and private sectors acting together to foster home-grown student talent will put Swansea Bay firmly on the destination map.
In other words, the region is changing. It’s going to be up to us to get fully engaged.